Fail, but fail fast
No, this post is not about start ups, although there is a lot to be learnt from them.
Last evening, quite unexpectedly, I got a call from a very good friend back home, who I had also worked with through Marriage Broker Auntie in it’s previous avatar. He told me he was getting married in two weeks. I love it when people reach out to me and share the news of them getting married. Marriage Broker Auntie is that person who you can always count on through your relationship journey and if someone thought I provided any form of support through their partner search, it’s always a big win for me. I love listening to relationship stories, and the one I listened to yesterday, is definitely worth sharing.
This friend was looking to recruit someone for his start-up and he found someone whose profile was interesting. When the girl came into his office for an interview, they chatted for a couple of hours and they clearly struck a good rapport. When asked what her plans in life were, she told him that her family was currently looking to get her arranged married. She said she didn’t have time to fall in love given her career choices, and so she would marry someone only if they seemed to be marriage ready without her having to spend years assessing that. This is exactly how my friend felt about partner search as well. So, voila, there was a “violins playing in the background” type moment for my friend, and he wasn’t going to miss this opportunity.
So, my friend suggested they go out dinner after the “interview” so they would have a chance to get to know each other better. At the end of the evening, given that there was a good fit, our man knew he had to take a chance, fail if needed, but fail fast and so he just popped the question – “Do you want to get married to me?” Obviously the girl was shell-shocked/ taken aback but our man assured her that it would be like a regular arranged marriage proposal with parents matching horoscopes and what not, and if it were to not work out, there would be no love lost. It was almost like a put option from his perspective.
I was too impressed by his guts, especially because I always tell people the same thing – if you like someone, just say it out loud, fail if needed but fail fast because life is too short. I know this is easier said than done. So when I asked him how he mustered enough courage to say it out loud, he said something that was even more impressive – he said “well, I liked her and she surpassed a fundamental threshold I had for a woman I wanted to marry but I wasn’t ready to spend years chasing this, wondering if I would clear her threshold or not and then brood over things not working out the way I wanted. So, I had very little to lose if I just asked her straight away because worst case, she would still come work with us in the future when we landed a project.
The longer you hold onto something within your head, the more you build it up without any real feedback. If you lack the ability to read people or their intentions very well, you are susceptible to being led on, based on your perception of the feedback, which may or may not be the same as theirs. So, when you finally receive real feedback, you may be too deeply invested and it may be harder to deal with rejection.
What about if you are a woman and you think you are better at reading a man’s intentions and given social norms, you believe you must wait around long enough until the man has made his move? Should you really wait or apply the fail fast rule and just tell him how you feel and get it over with? Unfortunately, I don’t have a simple answer for this.
There are two parts to this answer – Ask any guy and he will tell you it’s far easier for a woman to get any man she wants than the other way around. So, if it’s so easy for a woman to get who she wants without much more than the blink of an eye, being more explicit makes it more likely for a woman to seem like a lemon (although we can debate if she is really a lemon or not). The second part – given the social pressure around seeming like a lemon, women have a harder time being rejected when they have make the first move. Women find it close to impossible to just move on, unlike men. Women take it very personally as we are generally more self critical, and go into this vicious circle of trying to prove our worth to someone who is not even interested in us and make things worse.
If you are a woman who is comfortable in her skin, I say, fail, and fail fast because nothing like trying a 100 men vs being stuck trying to pursue one, because you don’t even know how much harder the battle to make it work with this one is. For those who are single and think you can relax after you find a partner, you can’t be more wrong – relationships are a LOT of work.
So, if you’re optimising for no work post marriage and chasing that “perfect” partner, let me break your bubble right away – there is no perfect partner for anyone. Optimising for a healthy marriage is a more realistic challenge to take on – As I’ve said before, love is not blind, but it’s about all the faults you don’t mind.